The origins of the Museum
The need to supply Rome with a museum of the Risorgimento took hold between 1880 and 1884
In June 1880 the historian Pasquale Villari (1827-1917), at the time a member of parliament, suggested an annual allocation of 4,000 lire "to form a collection of books, brochures and documents relating to the history of the national Risorgimento". Villari's proposal was immediately welcomed by the Minister of Public Education, Francesco De Sanctis (1817-1883).
Portrait of Pasquale Villari
Pasquale Villari's proposal indicated the Victor Emmanuel II National Library in Rome as the seat of the collection. The National Library, built just four years earlier, on 14th March 1876, was then located in the complex of the Roman College. Its director, Domenico Gnoli (1838-1915), set up a Risorgimento Section and started the acquisition of a first group of materials.
Main facade of the Collegio Romano in a late-18th-century engraving by Giuseppe Vasi, from Delle magnificenze di Roma antica e moderna (The Wonders of Ancient and Modern Rome)
In 1884 Turin hosted the Italian General Exhibition in the Valentino Park, which included a pavilion on the Risorgimento. On 11th March, some members of the Roman committee involved in collecting materials for the Turin pavilion, proposed to King Umberto I (1878-1900) to establish a National Museum of the Risorgimento in Rome.
Aerial map of Turin and the Italian General Expo of 1884